Teotihuacan to Oaxaca

Woke up in San Martin and hit up the Teotihuacan pyramids. Really amazing site. Interestingly the Aztecs found the area, they didn’t build it. They don’t know what it was called or who lived there before and Teotihuacan is the name they gave it. Little bit of a fixer upper, but thanks for the pyramids, bro, we’ll take it. The priests there must’ve had buns of steel cuz those steps are steeeeeeep. And far apart. Quad burners for sure, climbing to the top of those steps is a quality workout for anybody. The Pyramid of the Moon is just a warm up too. The Pyramid of the Sun is the third largest pyramid worldwide. Well worth the climb, not only for bragging rights but the views from the top looking at the Pyramid of the Moon from the Pyramid of the Sun, and vice versa, are incredible.

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This cute dog, who we dubbed Temple Dog, followed us around for a lot of our time there.

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A junior high field trip showed up. One group of them played drums and trumpets while a second carried long spear looking thingies and formed a semi-circle. Going to Teotihuaca for a field trip is waaaaaay better than what I got to do in junior high.

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You can walk through a bit of an excavation site and into an interior space to check out what the living arrangements were like. There are some paintings along parts of the wall that are still in medium-ok shape.

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We offered to take a picture for a Mexican couple and got a nice pic, you know, rule of thirds style, with them in the foreground and the Pyramid of the Sun in the back. They returned the favor with this amazing pic of us, looking happy, and completely blocking out the pyramid behind us. Muchas gracias!

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We soaked up Teotihuacan for a couple of hours and then hit the road for Oaxaca. Stopped at a roadside spot for grub. They gave us some strange complimentary bread plate and then we deviated from our all taco diet to try out some mushroom quesadillas. Slapped myself in the face. There was a nice field of cacti right beside it.

Took off and climbed into some red red mountains. Gorgeous view but of course got zero pictures as Mexico frowns upon scenic turnouts or view points to actually appreciate the breath-taking valleys, bridges, and scenescapes along their meandering highways.

Couple hours later and we were ambling up to Oaxaca. For the second time (first was Guadalajara) I demonstrated a new, previously undiscovered talent. Somehow I can drive into a town and land us within one block of the hostel we were actually aiming for. I don’t have some Jason Bourne-ian photographic memory or anything but numbers and patterns stick and by looking at a map briefly before leaving one place I can nail a location by memory pulling into the next. James has Bardar and I guess I have.. Hodar? No that sounds bad. Well good, but bad. Hosdar? Better. Writing down directions and taking screen shots of directions would be more helpful of course, but we aren’t so forward thinking as of yet on this trip.

We pulled in beside the Thomas Inn to check our bearings on their wifi and turns out the Casa Angel Youth Hostel was just around the corner. We knocked up some beads on the beer and taco abacus at the bar there and then moseyed over to the hostel. Walked in the door and chatted with the dude behind the desk. Got the “This place is cool” recommendation from some random guy on the lobby couch and we were in.

Jame’s ‘Dengue Fever’ was getting to him. He was feeling weary and wanted to collapse on the bed. He’d also discovered a new talent on the trip worth mentioning. His never ending stream of nose drool supplies him with an infinite amount of sticky goo that he can gather into his palm. Pouring this ammo onto his index finger he’s mastered a slick flick that can fling a straight, pretty much laser-sighted, stream of mucusy, spiderman-like wedding wherever he so chooses. Once I watched him stick a gecko to the wall from 20 yards out, Wild Bill Hickok style.

After a brief siesta we rallied up and hit the town. Asked the guy at the front desk what his favorite food was here and he recommended Tlayuda. He described it as a Oaxacan-style, stone fired pizza kind of dish. We were sold. Next mission – Find Tlayuda.

We strode off towards the central market and quickly found ourselves smack dab in the gravity of a massive, strolling street party. Everyone was dancing to a brass band and a few were holding up these huge paper mache caricatures of people and making them squiggle dance. There was a giant blue ball on a stick with large white letters on it that maybe described what they were celebrating. 40 years of orthondontistry? Or some guy who was a 40 yr old orthodontist? Or had practiced it for 40 years? Good enough reason for a celebration for us. We rolled alongside and flared our whiteboy dance boogie.

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Veering away from the mayhem we found the night market that front desk guy had told us about. Back on the mission, we rounded the central square checking out every station looking for some sort of pizza looking thing. Whoa, the area was teaming with white folks. After spending days and dias being the only gringos for miles, here we were blending into the crowd again. Weird. We caught snippets of French, German and Italian convo on passerbys. Seems Oaxaca is some magnet of European spirit sauce. “I’ve seen less white people in parts of LA”.

After surveying the market we finally realized we had no idea what we were looking for and launched into some spanglish querying. Bingo. Pretty much everyone makes Tlayuda. We sat at a rather posh feeling market stand and watched the baking process unfold. On a metal stand containing wood and charcoal was a ceramic slab that they slapped a flour disc on. Spread queso, tomatoes, and diced mushrooms overtop. Once it coagulates on the surface of the dough, the girl folds it and packs the semi-circle into a metal trap with a long handle. She then lifts the slab and puts the contraption directly on the coals underneath, the metal offering a slight barrier from the heat. She flips it once. Fans the flames with a paper plate. When the dough cooks to a teddy bear brown she takes it out, puts a layer of thin flank steak on top and serves it up to MacKay on a plate. Red and green salsas to compliment and voila! Desk guy was right, Tlayuda is delicious.

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Ahhh don’t give me that faaaaace…

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We started a new competition. Who can eat a messy Mexican meal and use the least amount of the tiny tiny napkins that every place seems to have. I had James at a disadvantage on this front due to his Dengue Fever so we decided to postpone the championships until he was off the IR.

While we were eating, a vendor girl saddled up next to us and was trying to sell MacKay on a lovely tapestry of some sort. “For your table, Senor?”, “I don’t have a table” replied MacKay. “For your secretary?”. We looked at each other. Did we hear that right? Bust out laughing. “Lo siento, lo siento. I don’t have a secretary. No gracias.”

Walking back to the hostel post-tlayuda, we got sucked back into the street parade from earlier by accident. It had settled around the main building in town, a giant ex-convent with a front-facing, double bell tower church called Santo Domingo. The party had expanded 3 fold, gathered even more large paper cartoon characters, and everyone was dancing, chanting, laughing, and drinking. It was a great vibe and we sponged it up for a while before heading back to the hostel.20140924_213722

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We took some road beers up to the roof of the Angel aiming to wind down the evening with a night cap of blog writing and ended up running into a nice collection of hostel travelers gathered around a table on the terrace drinking and smoking. They immediately invited us to join them. 2 groups of brits, a belgian, couple germans, and of course a drunk, obnoxious, feakishly lanky, bespectacled and ugly American fuckface who we unfortunately ended up sitting beside. (Just kidding, I’m only saying that cuz he’s probably going to read this). His name was Hunter. He had the body of a greek statue and a Han Solo charm. The comradery was instant. Within the first minute, before even exchanging names, we were talking about throwing him in the back of el-BP on the way to Chiapas. “Your lives will now be defined as the era before Hunter, and after Hunter.” Our humors combined to dangerous effect.

The sweet English girl to Hunter’s left (your right) was named Cailee. Her and her 2 companions had been travelling since early June. They were doing a round the world dealy, flying from Mex City to LA, then Fiji, New Zealand, Cambodia, maybe some other stops, and back to home come May. She had an interesting affection for red solo cups. Apparently they don’t have any in England, just those lame, clear plastic punch cups, 8oz or so, that force you to make a million to-go stiffies a night and keep you in the bartender role an uncomfortable amount of the time. I nuked her mind by describing the purpose behind the multiple rings of the subtly genius solo cup and her love for the simple object deepened. She’s going to start a solo cup monopoly when she gets back to Britain.

Front desk guy dropped the sober bomb at 11 with the closing the terrace announcement and we all splintered off to our respective rooms. Before disbanding we agreed to meet up with Hunter at breakfast downstairs the next morning to discuss the prospects of a third wheel. Could be a nice change of pace having a new person to banter and smack talk with.

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